13 Jul 2022

Five months since the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) introduced the first tranche – Part A – of a three-part list that finally clarifies what should be considered as material information, senior manager James Munro says the drive to make improvements in property listings is now gaining pace.

Munro has confirmed that Parts B and C will be announced shortly, and will include material information such as non-standard construction, absence of certain utilities, restrictive covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.

Responding to an article by EYE columnist Russell Quirk, published yesterday, in which he criticised the NTSELAT for what he perceived to be an “authoritarian” and “heavy handed” approach to overseeing the regulation of estate and letting agents, Munro was keen to point out that in general, estate and letting agents have been incredibly supportive of the changes introduced so far.

Munro told EYE: “The industry-wide effort to improve the upfront disclosure of material information was prompted by requests for clarity from agents who could see that interpretation of the legal requirements under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations not to omit material information, varied across the industry.

“Since then, our team has been working alongside a 12-strong steering group comprising industry bodies and the major property portals, to clarify and define what constitutes material information.

“The steering group is also supported by officials from DLUHC and the CMA. Material information is what is needed upfront by the average consumer in order for them to make an informed decision about whether [for example] to enquire about a property with the agent or arrange a viewing.

“Part A is now underway, with portals working with agents and CRM providers to ensure that all online listings include property price, council tax band [or property rates in NI] and tenure [for sales].

“Parts B and C will be announced shortly, and will include material information such as non-standard construction, absence of certain utilities, restrictive covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.

“The steering group is working hard to develop guidance that makes it as easy as possible for agents – in partnership with others – to provide the information that will make the most impact, cutting time wasted on unnecessary enquires, speeding up transactions and reducing the number of fall-throughs that occur when previously undisclosed information comes to light.”

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